Summer Success Strategies

I work at a college and get a partial meal plan as part of my compensation. I think that’s been part of the reason for this seemingly endless plateau when it comes to weight loss. I eat lunch at a college dining hall EVERY weekday. And, as much as I’d like to say I make healthy food choices and avoid the overstocked dessert section, I’d be lying.

I feel fortunate that our dining hall is run by Sodexho and has a “Balanced Way” option. Balanced Way meals are under 600 calories, have less than 30% of their calories come from fat and contain 50% produce, 25% high quality protein and 25% whole grain, fiber rich complex carbs. Except not always. Increasingly, I see white rice as the carb option (actually I’ve NEVER seen brown rice) and while most days they do have fresh veggies, sometimes it’s a boring old mix of boiled or steamed frozen mixed veg blend. Those are the days that I find myself more tempted by the pizza (thin crust, light cheese, veggies and sometimes even a whole grain/wheat crust–okay but not great) or the sandwich bar (not as good–their deli meats taste like they are overprocessed and really high in sodium). And the ultimate cheat: my old habit of grabbing a bowl of cereal when lunch just sucks and my taste buds (not my belly) are wanting more. I’ve found myself logging a 600 calorie lunch more frequently than I care to. (I’d prefer to stick to 400 calories.)

Some of you will say “just because they give you a meal plan doesn’t mean you have to eat it.” You’re right. But it’s also part of the work culture. Many of us eat together. It’s fun to relax and dine with colleagues. I’ve always promised myself that my diet will be more about making better choices and changing my lifestyle–not social isolation.

So, I’ve been eagerly anticipating campus closing–not because students will be gone, but because the dining hall will be closed, many of my colleagues have the summer off (=no staff lunches) and all of my food consumption will be under my full control. Therefore, I’ve committed to a hardcore health and training challenge May 17th through August 9th.

Those of you who know me know I prepare and I plan. You also know that I try to minimize waste and be at least somewhat sustainable and enviro-friendly. Here are my tools:

This super cute lunch-sized reusable bag from Whole Foods.

A lunch box that makes it easy to control portions and include a variety of healthy foods in my lunch. I find that having diversity in my meal keeps me more satisfied.

Not one but TWO Camelback 32oz water bottles. They will be loaded with ice water and kept in my office fridge. I HATE drinking room temp water–it has to be ice cold. I already have one from the Better Bottle line. I will probably get a second or (preferably) get one of their aluminum/BPA-free bottles.

Camelback better bottle.gif

A new food & fitness journal. This is to allow me to more easily and efficiently track what I’m consuming and expending and limit time spent on the computer logging meals and workouts.

A new fitness plan. Additionally, I think I’ve convinced Evan to teach me how to plan tennis.

My BodyBugg & my Timex IronMan heart rate monitor. Checks and balances to determine whether my workouts are really as challenging as I think they are.

 My camera. To provide visible proof of my food intake and more accountability.

Weight Watchers. I think I’ve settled on going to weekly meetings at a nearby center (instead of online). In the past, when I’ve done WW, I’ve done it by selecting the lowest point foods possible and avoiding fats altogether. This time, I will be sure to incorporate the advice of my nutritionist regarding incorporating protein at every meal and snack, eating every 4 hours and consuming an appropriate amount of healthy fats.

Cookbooks! My collection includes:

  • The Biggest Loser Cookbook
  • The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook
  • The Most Decadent Diet Ever by Devin Alexander
  • Hungry Girl: Recipes and Suvival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World by Lisa Lillien
  • The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger
  • several Weight Watchers cookbooks (some are better than others)
  • The South Beach Quick & Easy Cookbook
  • Eating for Life by Bill Phillips
  • The Schwarzbein Principle Cookbook
  • an overstuffed folder filled with recipes from magazines like Real Simple, Everyday Food, Cooking Light, Women’s Health, Shape, Self and Weight Watchers Magazine.
  • A stack of homemade salad dressing recipes that would make Saladworks jealous.
  • …and many more…

 Ultimate goal: to KNOW that I’m making good decisions even if the weight still refuses to come off and to be more prepared for The Breast Cancer 3-Day (60 miles!) that I will be walking in October.

I know, I know… with a plan like this you were expecting me to stay “My goal is to lose 24-30 pounds in those 12 weeks.” Nope. I’m not falling for that trick. I can’t control the scale. I can only control my behavior.

How are you taking advantage of summer weather, longer days, crappy TV and the summer schedule to focuse on your own health or fitness goals?


8 responses to “Summer Success Strategies

  1. I get that it’s social to eat together.. but you can bring your lunch to the cafe.. I do that all the time (when I get to eat lunch at work) so don’t use your “free taste like crap” meal plan as a crutch… 🙂

  2. In order to do that, I’d still have to swipe into the dining hall (which costs our department money). I have ethical issues with charging my department for food that I’m not even eating–especially during a tight budget year.

  3. You need to change your frame of reference.. your department is paying for you to gain synergy with your coworkers/be around students/represent the campus positively.. not for you to eat and be unhealthy which will cost them more in health care costs..

    I guess mom’s catholic guilt is still working on you. 😉

  4. Or just get a diet soda…

  5. Oh! I love your plan! I can’t wait to see how it goes!

  6. You have definitely collected a lot of great tools, and I know you are going to have awesome results!

    I understand your dilemma. It’s tough when you aren’t in complete control of your choices, but it sounds like you make pretty good use of the healthier options. I wouldn’t be thrilled with steamed or boiled frozen veg mix either. Ugh. That could definitely send me looking for pizza!

  7. I have the same camera and just absolutely cannot live without it. It is so light that I carry it everywhere on my purse. If you haven’t bought it yet, it’s on sale this week for about $80.

  8. I love this post!

    I too am a planner, and seeing your list of “tools” for your plan really inspires me. I think you’ve definitely set yourself up for success.

    My own plan for summer (since I’m a teacher, and I’m finally taking the summer off) is to spend as much time as possible outdoors doing activities. Biking, swimming, farmers markets, and long walks. With a few group exercise classes at the gym sprinkled in for good measure. Can’t wait!

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